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12 March 2010
Around 30 Assembly Members met experts from the Beacon for Wales and Welsh Higher Education Institutions at the National Assembly’s Senedd building, to find out how universities in Wales are leading the way in terms of working with the public.
The ‘Higher Education and the Welsh Public’ exhibition, organised by the Beacon for Wales, celebrated the many ways in which Welsh universities bring their knowledge out into the wider world. Every university in Wales was represented at this showcase event, including Cardiff’s own Community Engagement Team.
Visitors to Cardiff’s stand were invited to ‘become’ an astronaut and find out about Welsh space research in the School of Physics and Astronomy, or meet a deep-sea diver and find out how work from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences teaches us about the environment not only today, but also millennia into the past. There were colouring activities for children, alongside much more detailed information about the importance of the University’s research, teaching and engagement work.
Speaking about the event, Eluned Parrott, Community Engagement Manager for Cardiff University said: "This has been a valuable opportunity to meet Assembly Members and explain how universities work to make a real contribution to the society we live in. Even an apparently straightforward collaboration, for example creating a research-inspired photography exhibition for the National Museum of Wales, can have an impact on our culture and society by bringing new art into the public sphere, and even on the economy, by supporting a major tourist attraction.
"Public Engagement can inform and educate the public, but it does this best when it also entertains them. Fun activities such as dressing up as an astronaut appeal to people’s imaginations, and open a door for us to talk to them about our work’s more serious side. This event is just one in a long line of new opportunities that hosting the Beacon for Wales has brought to Cardiff University"
Bruce Etherington, Beacon for Wales Manager said: "This event provided the chance to show local politicians and opinion-leaders how we contribute to all areas of Welsh society, but just as importantly, we’ve had a chance to meet members of the public, school children and tourists on their visits to the Senedd, and share ideas with colleagues from every university in Wales."
Rhodri Morgan, AM for Cardiff West, gave the opening speech at the event. He said: "This event was a valuable opportunity to learn more about the contribution our universities are making to Wales beyond teaching, research and business links. The Beacon for Wales initiative is helping to bring universities and communities in Wales closer together and develop a mutual understanding of each other’s experiences and challenges."
The Beacon for Wales, officially launched in 2008 and based at Cardiff, is a partnership between the University, University of Glamorgan, BBC Wales, National Museum Wales and Techniquest, which aims to help universities in Wales engage more with the communities of which they are part. Part of the UK-wide Beacons for Public Engagement scheme the Welsh Beacon also encourages people to play a more active role in the work of higher education institutions.
The Beacon for Wales, which organised the exhibition, works across Wales to help universities work with, learn from and share knowledge with the public. For more information, visit www.engagingwales.org
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